Friday, June 21, 2013

Hold onto your hats... the wind is changing...

Sometimes I have a blog post rolling around in my brain for a few days and I ultimately decide not to post it... this is almost one of those posts. But I'm goin' with it. It's going to be pretty raw so fasten your seatbelts.

My kids have been out of school for one week.

And I can already say this is the hardest summer ever.

And here's why: I don't know what to do with my kids.

First of all, they're BIG. Physically, they take up a LOT of space. Frankly - they're in the way of keeping the house clean and organized and they clutter up the place.

Secondly, they listen to the most awful 'music'. And they all own i-somethings... pods, phones etc... full of this terrible noise. And inevitably, it is playing loudly. All the time.

Third, their friends. Here. Eating all the time. Adding to the noise. Taking up even more space.

And last - they leave. And then the house is ridiculously quiet and boring. And I feel left out. Unimportant. Unnecessary. Irrelevant.

Frankly, there's a LOT of change happening in the lives of the four people I live with... Asia is working 65 hour work weeks right now. His practice is thriving. He is invigorated and excited about finally getting to do what he loves to do. But he is never home.

Kyler has a fairly new relationship with an amazing girl and a job that keeps him quite busy. Many of his friends are home from college now and he just got a new laptop that's seeing it's share of gaming/LAN time... (Let's be clear that I have no idea what I'm talking about when I type LAN) He's in heaven. And so much of how he spends his time grates against what I think he could/should be doing.

Savannah leaves a week from Sunday for three weeks working at Ghormley Meadow Christian Camp. She will be meeting lots of people and living the thrill of camp life. Her job at home, working at a Safeway Starbucks kiosk, will be waiting for her when she gets back. She's a happy girl.

Ethan's summers are always one continuous playdate. He's a friendly guy with tons of friends and he literally goes from friend to friend to friend all summer long. He goes Sunday to Cougar Strings Camp at WSU and is thrilled to have an intensive week of upright bass instruction and a 'camp' experience - living in a dorm and eating in a cafeteria...

Me? I work. I do laundry. I pick up after everyone. I sit in my green chair and lament the days when I wished I could have a moment to myself. Because now, even when my house if full of big teenagers, I am alone. Alone in trying to maintain some sort of normalcy. Alone in wishing for some order in a house full of ridiculously different schedules. Alone in wishing life could just slow down and there was a pause button to hold everyone in the same room for more than an hour here and there.

Everyone else is just fine.

And I'm flailing.

Lost.

I rush home from work to be with my kids because I feel guilty leaving them home alone so much and no one even notices when I get there.

Gosh, it's hard to write about this... I think because I usually write about struggles when I know I can write my way into a solution.

And I don't see a solution. (And this 'putting the struggle out there' business is a little too vulnerable {even for me} when I can't wrap it up in a pretty little bow labeled 'this is hard but I'll be okay'.)

I don't quite know how to be okay with this.

I told Asia last night that as an introvert I can honestly say that I've never struggled with loneliness. Alone is what I do best. I LOVE being alone.

For the first time in my life, I'm lonely.

Alone.

Alone in trying to hold life together for this family... what used to be tight and comfortable is spinning wildly out of control... and that doesn't seem to bother anyone but me.

It just feels like the beginning of the end of our little tribe.

I don't want to have to define a new normal. I like what we've had.

And I don't see how I fit in anymore... except as maid, laundress, personal shopper and taxi driver (which, I gotta be honest, aren't remarkably rewarding roles.)

It's hard to put it out there... especially because I know my kids read my blog sometimes... I don't want them to feel badly. They're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing... I know all the blah blah blah about letting them go - let them stretch their wings - "it's what we've raised them to do..."

Whatever. That's all good. It's right.

But it doesn't really make the process any easier for me.

And it doesn't answer the question 'what now?'

And it doesn't make me less lonely.

And it doesn't bring order to the chaos.

My role in the summer used to be really easily defined. I was the park-picker, the picnic packer, the bike-ride companion, the science experiment overseer. Together we would pass the afternoons in the backyard with the blow up pool and plan dinner together and invite friends over.

Now I am the one watching everyone else live their lives and unable to influence/impact much of anything.

Wow.

Such a Debby-downer today.

I just don't quite know what to do with myself. And I have a feeling this long slow painful transition is going to stretch out over the next five years...

How in the world am I going to do this gracefully when generally I find myself constantly vacillating between wanting to cry and wanting to punch someone in the face? Add in hormonal/peri-menopausal issues and I may just need to go to the loony-bin.

***********************************************************************So there it is.

This life. The reality. This struggle.

Out there for all to see.

No pretty bow to wrap it up.

There's really no simple answer. No platitudes to make it easier. No comfort because change is UN-comfortable.

I'll get through it.

It's what I do.

But honestly, I even feel alone in the admission.

Why don't women talk about stuff like this? Why do we all walk around like everything is okay and we all are so proud of our kids and this is the reward of all our hard years of mothering... our functioning adults are just exactly what we've been working so hard for...

Why doesn't anyone tell you it's going to be impossibly painful to redefine yourself after 18 years and that finding yourself on the back burner of your kid's brains instead of the front and center/primary influencer really HURTS?

It's hard.

So I'm just saying it.

Getting it out there.

Hopefully you'll forgive me my little self indulgent rant. Can we still be friends if I'm this much of a mess?

As always, getting it out of my head and onto this page is therapeutic for me.

Not asking for answers... but keeping it real. Being honest about the struggle.

And that's all I have to say today.

10 comments:

  1. I am finding myself in the same situation this summer. My oldest is now driving and I, frankly, am not needed like I used to be. It is a strange feeling. In so many ways this summer for me is all about trying to find the "new normal" as I call it. I know it will finally settle in and become "routine" (whether I want it to or not). I will find that "new normal" and become comfortable once again. But for now, this uncomfortableness... well, it sucks. And the next five years, between now and the youngest heading off to college, I have a feeling I am going to have to find that "new normal" over and over again. Thanks for being so real. It makes it easier just knowing that I am not alone in these crazy feelings.

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  2. Thanks for writing this, Cathy... It's a lot to think about. My girls are 11, 8.5 and 6 now and while summer is definitely an adjustment (and moving again on top of it) it's such a good reminder that things are never constant, and "the new normal" that has its kinks is probably going to rank among the best of together time looking back. Sigh. You know Stacy Julian, right? I think you should pick her brain because she has gone through this (or is going through it). Sigh. This parenting stuff is not for the faint of heart.

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  3. Totally right there with ya sista! I was so sad last week...we always spend some days at the lake every summer, me and the kids with various friends. I asked when they wanted to go and they looked at me like I had invited them to join me at the dentist! Apparently having air mattress wars with mom is no longer appealing. :(
    TOTALLY relate to feeling guilty for being gone, then rushing home to not be noticed. Its all very fascinating, being a mom... hang in there! We will get through it and find our own purpose past motherhood... I am pretty sure its our only option!

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  4. As I am at the end of my "kids at home" phase I can understand what you are saying. I assure you as you jump into this next season of having an adult child, while being different it will be amazing. I enjoy my adult children in ways I never enjoyed them as kids, and I enjoyed my kids! Nothing wrong with what you are feeling and going through. The tough part is going through it.....not around or over, but through it. Let yourself feel these emotions because it's an important part of the process. But trust me as your child really does spread his wings you will feel a different kind of joy. Just wait for it...I promise it will come.

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  5. I appreciate your words and thoughts. I can almost taste what you're going through. Life is completely different than this for me because my kids are little, but it's like I sense what it could be without them. I keep bracing myself for the blow. How will I handle separation in what every shape it comes in? Lord, help us. Maybe I can write a letter to my future self? Or maybe you're writing one for me along with other friends who are experiencing that separation. We can't prepare for it, I suppose, other than knowing that it's not something we can gracefully and light-heartedly experience. What it seems to me is that it's meant to be painful. But not just that. Joy is something that coexists with pain, and I hope I can own that throughout life. How do we tap into that? One thing I've noticed about you is that you're a thankful person. You see beauty in moments. So keep being thankful because that is how we tap into joy, right? Rejoice in the Lord always, and don't stop until you get the joy.

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  6. Cath, mothering is JUST HARD, on both sides. A little perspective, that I KNOW you know....I'm laying on the floor of the playhouse because the twins wanted me to "play with them" and now they are screaming at each other. Yesterday I cried because at 9:00 I had exhausted what to do with 3 year olds on a rainy day. My grandpa stopped by during nap time and I actually felt begrudging of 15 minutes of precious "nap minutes." I KNOW how fleeting it all is, but in the moment it is JUST HARD! I know I will look back and somehow remember this fondly (because I do with the first two), but it IS HARD! I predict that you will look back on the teen years fondly too. "Remember how fun it was to have a house full of huge, rowdy children eating all my food!! Remember those late nights where they would decide it was the best time to share their deepest feelings and it was all we could do to not tell them to GO TO BED! Remember driving them all those places and having little snippets of insightful conversation." Sorry to pontificate so long on this, but this whole "mothering is HARD" theme is on my mind right now! I told Danny (after my first week of not working 1.5 days) that nobody should be expected to mother their children for FIVE WHOLE DAYS in a row! :-) Just keeping real from both ends of the mothering spectrum!! Mindy

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  7. Right there with ya sister... Hugs, prayers and love to you.
    I think it is an amazing and awful time....

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  8. Cathy, I can't begin to tell you how much your blog is meaning to me. Matty can't seem to get outside to walk our dog, but is walking around the Valley with a friend (girl of course!) who is picking up job applications. I feel like a FBI agent, trying to find out what's going on in that boy/man brain of his. We used to spend the Summer swimming every chance we got. I don't know how to get him to the pool without bribing or forcing him. I have loved every stage of his life, but am struggling to find my place in his world. Thank you for your transparency. It's so much better than hearing co-workers say, "It only gets WORSE!" I don't really believe that, but it still makes my stomach hurt.

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  9. Hi Cathy,
    Parenting teens is hard. I have a 15 yr old and a 19 yr old who joined the Marines 6 months ago after giving college a try for five seconds.

    This era is all about letting go and accepting what is. And much of it is not much fun. It's the truth.

    I've had to make peace with the fact that the sweet days of our family are over. I'm glad I was there. I'm glad they happened. But they're not coming back. And it's hard to accept this.

    What has helped me is to begin to look at my life differently. If I'm not mothering all the time with people who need me and want to be with me, what does it free up in my life?

    I've spent weekends this year visiting old friends, attending retreat workshops, and doing girls weekends with my mom and sister. I couldn't have found time for these weekends years ago.

    I've made time to read books that I like and I spend a lot of time with my dog taking long, long walks. I've started music lessons.

    I've learned to enjoy my own company again and to begin to look at my life with fresh eyes.

    Be kind to yourself. Change is hard.

    hmbalison

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  10. I can't wait to sit and talk for hours with you. We'll talk about all this stuff. And about frivolous stuff. Yeah, I can hardly wait.

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